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11 Senators urge that Governor “immediately reclassify the restaurant industry as critical infrastructure before even more damage is done to our communities.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Giardino Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove, like many other restaurants, invested heavily in setting up outdoor dining, only to be closed down for all but takeout or delivery by the latest public health orders.

December 16, 2020 (Santee) – Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) and ten other Senators sent a strongly worded letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on behalf of out of work restaurant employees and owners suffering during the state-ordered shutdown of indoor and outdoor dining throughout much of California.

Specifically, the bi-partisan letter asks the Governor to: “immediately reclassify the restaurant industry as critical infrastructure before even more damage is done to our communities . . . closed restaurants means jobs lost, missed rent, mortgage and car payments and a lot of unemployment checks.”
In the letter, Jones and the other ten Senators also point out the work restaurant employees and owners have already done to prevent COVID transmission: “The industry has proposed guidelines that would allow restaurants to continue to operate safely and at capacity levels that will allow restaurants to stay afloat, while at the same time implementing safety protocols . . .”
“Waitresses, waiters, chefs, cooks, other restaurant employees and owners have been whipsawed by these shutdowns for nine months now,” stated Senator Jones. “As someone who worked in the restaurant industry for a number of years, I know that safety is the utmost concern for them. For the state to arbitrarily close them down and make restaurants and their employees a scapegoat is simply unfair and unjustifiable.”
Federal, state and local health officials have all indicated that dining at restaurants is a high-risk activity during the pandemic, because patrons must take off masks when eating or drinking in close proximity to others at the same table.  
Locally, a significant number of outbreaks of COVID-19 have been tied to restaurants, though it is unclear how many of those may have involved outdoor dining vs. indoor dining, or how many were at restaurants following all of the health rules, versus any that may have defied health regulations.

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